Misplaced critique for Hero

The movie is the story of Nameless, a sword-wielding hero in the era of Chinese unification. The movie is structured around a conversation between Nameless and the King of Qin, the man who will unite the nation, become China’s first emperor, and build the Great Wall — Nameless has killed the three Zhao assassins who have hunted the King for the last three years. Before Nameless can receive the promised reward, the King requests that he recount the tale of how he bested the assassins.


Hero was a spectacular film by Zhang Yimou that was released in 2002 in Asia. Unfortunately, Quentin Tarantino released it in the United States in 2004 and took all the meaning from what the film was and could have been. The American film trailer shows martial arts galore as a epic battle sequence with nonstop action. What is the most amusing aspect is that it’s more about one man’s decisions that would eventually effect a whole empire and a love story that intertwines with the secondary characters. The translation has been par although there were a couple of misconstrued phrases and much of the film required understanding of the Chinese culture to acquire a more in-depth feel.
Strangely enough, this film got most of the critique for being a “Paean to Authoritarianism” from film critics all over the world. Half of the American film critics didn’t know what they were watching and compared it to Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (of which Jet Li gave up the lead role to be on hiatus with his wife). Backwards City Reviews points out thatRichard Eng of UCLA, argues otherwise against the authoritarianism defense. From Chinese moviegoers, the disgust is mostly for Zhang Yimou’s fascination with director Akira Korosawa‘s works and the integration of a Japanese type of film with Chinese cultural background.
If you liked this Hero, look out for House of Flying Daggers (2004) also directed by Zhang Yimou.